Category Archives: Recipes From The Garden

Lee Reich Shares Seed Starting Tips & More

Lee Reich's farmden is organized and weed free.

Lee Reich’s spring garden

I love Lee Reich!

Dr. Reich (botanist, retired professor and incredible home gardener) lives on a “farmden” in New York state and is my go to guy for fruit growing, pruning and feeding blueberries, blackberries, apples and more.

In this lovely interview with Lee Reich, another of my favorite gardeners, Margaret Roach, formerly Martha Stewart’s garden guru and author of several beautiful books including the book that launched her blog A Way To Garden.

Get Lee Reich’s simple but very effective recipe for seed starting mix. Take a look at his planting tools – practical, some homemade and all well-used and well-loved.  And watch the two wonderful clips of Reich in his gardens.

Its snowing again here, today, but I am going to my basement, turning on my grow lights and playing in the dirt as I dream of April, May and June.

Happy Gardening, Gang.

 

 

Rancho Gordo Founder Spills the Beans

I love Steve Sando.

Actually, I love his beans.  Sando created, owns and runs Rancho Gordo, which is in my view, the premier vendor of heirloom beans.

Rancho Gordo bean recipes

Heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo

My first brush with Rancho Gordo came through Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O.  It was a profile on the company, probably almost a decade ago that kicked off my love affair and I have bought Sando’s beans ever since!

In this podcast, Steve Sando shares his background, his path and how he let serendipity into his life and changed it forever.

This is a fabulous interview by Lisa Gansky, a self-acclaimed entrepreneur, social instigator, international speaker, and author, with a man who I admire and whose products I buy for myself, my daughter and my friends.

BTW – Steve Sando doesn’t just sell beans, he share his recipes, expertise and enthusiasm for growing, sourcing and eating heirloom beans!

Enjoy!

Open Apology to Modern Farmer Magazine

Did you ever make a decision, feel pretty righteous about it then realize you were wrong?  Totally wrong??  Could not be more wrong???

Modern Farmer Magazine

Modern Farmer is an amazing magazine!

That’s just what I did when I cancelled my newly acquired subscription to Modern Farmer.

I was feeling churlish; I subscribed weeks earlier but hadn’t received a copy yet.  And it’s just quarterly so, in hindsight, I thought it wasn’t worth the cost.  Wrong, dead wrong, could not be more completely wrong.

I got my first issue – #10 – Winter 2015-2016 and knew just how big a dolt I had been.

This magazine is worth every penny and then some.  I read it from cover to cover in a day and a half, tabbed up some things I wanted to research more and am rereading it right now (well not while I’m typing but rereading, yes).

I am not a farmer but I am an avid organic gardener. I raise all my own fruit (blueberries, blackberries, figs, cherries and the stray pear, apple and pluot). I grow my own vegetables and herbs and am building my own meadow in the back of our 2.3 acres.

So I loved reading the article on Seed Matters – some of the most amazing organic seed breeders and growers — and getting some recipes from their benefit dinner.

And I own a horse – have always loved horses – so I immediately read the cover article on harnessing the power of draft horses.

I enjoyed the article on growing hops and loved meeting “The Modern Farmers” through their profiles of small operations that are making a big difference in their neighborhoods.

So, with huge apologies to Modern Farmer, I went back to its site today and subscribed for 2 years.  (A formal, written letter of apology will be mailed to the Editor, tomorrow.)

I will be sharing this beautifully produced, beautifully written and heartfelt magazine with stunning photography, too, with my niece who has just bought 14 acres in upstate Pennsylvania with her guy. They plan on growing their food, raising animals for meat and sale, raising fish and living on their farm.

This magazine will just be one more tool they can use and enjoy.

BTW-my subscription also gives me access to the web site and all the articles, online.  A bargain….a beautiful bargain.

Grow A Healthy Gut in 2016 – Microbiome Resources For You!

Want to know how easy it will be to get healthy, lose weight, say good-bye to chronic complaints about digestion, headaches and other maladies and have a Happy New Year in 2016?

Read one book.  Make some changes to what you eat and start on the path to good health. That’s how easy it is.

2016 New Year of Health

Get healthy in 2016. It’s easy.

I sincerely wish I had found the book about 15 years ago when bladder cancer became out ticket to travel down the rabbit hole of so-called “health care.”

Surgeries (12), hospitalizations (52) and BCG therapy (5 courses of a form of bacterial Russian roulette that was supposed to kill the cancer cells) and up until just 3 months ago, my husband was just as unhealthy as he had been when the ride started.

For years, we had heard from his medical team that Pat’s problem was “leaky gut,” a diagnosis often delivered with a shrug and not one idea on how to change it.

So, what does our tale of woe have to do with getting healthy in 2016?
Everything.

In October, I bought Dr. David Perlmutter’s most recent book, Brain Maker, and I finally got a clear understanding of what leaky gut is and means and why it was critical to Pat’s health.

What I learned from a book (which was not, once mentioned by the cadre of specialists who have seen, treated and billed my poor husband) is that the intestinal lining – the largest mucosal surface in the body and the barrier between “the inside and outside” is exactly one single cell thick!

Bad news? If you have leaky gut it means your cell wall is permeable and you have a very serious health issue. Good news?  Leaky gut is manageable, dare one say reversible?

Not one of the idiots who had Pat in their care knew, mentioned or even touched on the criticality of this condition or the way to help fix it.  They just kept prescribing antibiotics – life-saving but also life-threatening – and sending him home.

After reading Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Brain Maker, I learned about the good bacteria that should be in the gut and those that can cause problems if they overtake the good bacteria.  I got a broad but enlightening introduction to the “second brain” and the fact that the gut often sends messages to the brain to make it act – not the other way around.

Everything I read influenced our next round of dietary changes. Dr. Perlmutter’s recipes made it easy to make the needed changes.  And suddenly things started improving for my husband.

Once I read Dr. Perlmutter’s book and implemented changes (see NOTE ON DINING below), I started doing some research on the microbiome.  This is a growing field and there is a tremendous amount of research going on under the covers on the second brain.

It appears that the world of medicine is about to change, radically and for the better. If you want more information here are some resources I recommend:

This TED talk lays a solid foundation for how our gut bacteria work and how they affect our health . Rob Knight opens the door in this TED talk then helps us walk right in by talking about how gut bacteria might be implicated in a raft of chronic health issues like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Celiac disease, obesity, allergies, and asthma.

If you want to know what’s going on in your microbiome – a snapshot if you will – here is the place to go. Visit this crowdsourced research project and get your gut bacteria analyzed for less than $100.

It’s all there, available for anyone who wants to get their health back.

After reading, listening and changing a few more things in our lives, for the first time in 15 years, Pat and I are able to manage his infections, lower his blood sugar and give him back his life.

One book, one person changed our lives forever and for the better!

Borrow it from the library, download it from Amazon, buy it.  Sign up for Dr. Perlmutter’s regular posts, videos and information and get healthy in 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone.  Here’s to your health.

NOTE ON DINING:  As I said earlier in this novella, what the book/doctors are saying on how to correct your microbiome may seem a bit draconian if you are just getting started.  Take it one bite at a time and you will get your health back.

By the time I read this book, we had already totally cut out ALL processed foods.  We ONLY eat organic, non-GMO foods – including meat, poultry and wild-harvested fish – and fruit and veggies I either raise or get at the local organic food exchange.  That has helped both of us lose over 50 pounds and really feel physically better but it didn’t move his blood sugars a whole lot nor did it cut down on his regular trips to the hospital.

Now, he and I both eat freshly made sauerkraut (I am on my 3rd batch and enjoy making it).  Also, instead of spending $7.50 for a pint at the local farmer’s market, I make a gallon + a pint for about $1.50! It’s cabbage with salt!!  Amazing and amazingly good.

We both drink kombucha which I make and bottle and are loving it!  Again, buy it in the health food store and pay $5.00 for 12 ounces.  Make it at home and it’s about 50 cents a glass.  We recently added duck eggs to our diets – 16% more protein and said to be better at creating a gut environment that is less conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

Simple changes to our diet and a bit of knowledge about how the gut works and how critical it is to overall health could have changed our lives and saved us emotional currency, time and thousands and thousands of dollars over the last decade and a half.

I urge you to explore the concept of microbiome and gut bacteria.  Just Google it and see how many diseases are actually being studied and in some cases reversed by getting good gut bacteria to outweigh the bad – autism, ALS, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and that’s just the A’s!

Holiday Entertaining: Recipe for Lasagna with Cabbage

My Italian born husband loves this lasagna and so do I.

Adapted from Crescent Dragonwagon‘s cookbook – The Passionate Vegetarian,Pumpkin and Bean Lasagna is rich, flavorful and, once you have the fillings assembled, easy to make.

Another plus is this lasagna is diabetic friendly!  I only use 15 (fifteen) lasagna noodles in a five pound casserole.  So my husband can enjoy exceptional flavor and not worry about his blood sugar.

Give it a try on a cool, rainy day and you may never go back to the old fashioned way of making lasagna again.

FYI – as I mentioned, this is a 5 pound lasagna — a BIG lasagna using a pan that is about 5 inches deep, 15 inches long and 12 inches wide.  After guests have had their fill, I cut whatever I have left into serving sizes and freeze it for another rainy day.

The ingredients are listed in order and, like most lasagnas, you assemble the fillings before you start to put the dish together.

Cabbage, Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna

Carmelized Garlic – 20 cloves of garlic, halved and pan fried until just golden.

Bean & Butternut Filling – 2 pounds of pumpkin (or butternut) cut into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces and pan fried under low heat until soft.  2 cups cooked kidney beans, drained. Mash the pumpkin or squash slightly and mix in the kidney beans

Cabbage – Cabbage sliced in ½ inch thick ribbons  NOTE:  I use the cabbage to take the place of most of the lasagna noodles.

Cheese Filling – 1 pound ricotta cheese, 3 raw eggs, 2 ounces cream cheese and 1 cup milk. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.

Spices – Nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste.

3 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese

Whole wheat lasagna noodles – uncooked.  If using cabbage in place of noodles you will only need about 15 noodles.

Tomato or Spaghetti Sauce – I use 2 quarts in my lasagna.

Once you have all the layers ready, start assembling your lasagna the way you always do.  Cover with aluminum foil then bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes to let top brown a bit and release some moisture.

Let sit for about 15 minutes before you cut and serve it.

I like this dish because I can serve it and actually sit down to dinner with my guests.  Hope you like it, too.
Happy holidays to everyone!

My Tips for Sustainable Living

I am loving Nathan Crane’s series on sustainable living.

I am learning a lot from the people in this series and gaining new insights and new ideas. I am also realizing that almost every change I have made in my life over the last 20+ years, including my focus on organic gardening, has brought

Community gardens are gifts.

Gardening is good for body and soul.

me one step closer to living more sustainably. That was not why I made the changes.

Being sustainable never entered into my choices. Watching, listening, seeing and, at some deep level, awakening, knowing and choosing to make changes in my life and my home that are ethically in tune with me began with a diagnosis of cancer.

Once started, the changes didn’t stop. Here are some simple things I did, you can do, to just start down the path of being kinder to yourself, your loved ones and your world.

Buy organic meat and poultry. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Everything changed.  And this was one of the first changes I made.  I found neighbors who were farmers who were organic and we bought our first pasteur-raised, free-ranged food.  I am a vegetarian now but we still buy organic meats from our friends.

No paper towels.  Sounds silly, small, but it was the first choice I made.  I weaned the household (and my husband) off of them in a year.  We have not had paper towels in our home for 7 years.  I buy fabric napkins at thrift shops and use them and wash them and use them again.

Drying clothes on a line.  I live in a relatively affluent neighborhood where

Breezecatcher 4 arm dryer

My Breezecatcher dryer saves me $100’s every year.

there are no clothes lines.  My solution? Buy a “solar dryer” that I can put out in the morning and take down in the afternoon.  I save about $80 a month on electricity just by drying towels, sheets and heavy cloths outdoors, year round.

Lettuce is an easy crop to grow and so tasty.

Lattuga in any language is a great addition to your garden.

Growing My Own – organic gardening has moved from an idea to a full-blown love of mine and it all started with lettuce!  Twenty plus years later, I have never looked back.  I am cheap, pragmatic and able to raise almost every veggie or fruit we eat using nothing but time, sunshine, water and love.

Making my own laundry detergent.  I decided to do this because I live in well country – and there are a lot of families downstream from my septic system and tile field.  Commercial laundry detergents are pretty harsh so I found a recipe (on the internet) using washing soda, laundry soap – Fels Naptha – and water. I add a few drops of Thieves oil for scent and make 3 gallons at a time for pennies on the dollar.  And I get the peace of mind of knowing that I am not poisoning my neighbors’ wells.

Making kombucha and sauerkraut.  This is my newest venture and I LOVE it. Fermented foods are so easy to make and so inexpensive to prepare.  You can pay $6.50 for a pint of sauerkraut or make a gallon – 8 pints – for $2.00.  Same with Kombucha — fermented black tea.  Pay $5.00 a bottle or about 15 cents a bottle.  It’s easy to make, delicious to drink and again, so very good for you.  Save money, feed your family and save resources.

Don’t listen to me.  Listen to yourself.  Take a step that works for you. Grow something. Save something. Make something. Don’t wait for someone else; make the change you want to see.

Let’s go back to Edward Abbey’s America.

“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others.”                                                                                           Edward Abbey

Veggie Recipes for End of Summer

I promised to share two zucchini recipes – one for chips – delicious – and one for zucchini fritters.  The chips recipe is below — a tasty way to use up the zucchini you have on your kitchen counter.

Zuke fritters will be posted this week but I wanted to share some ideas for using eggplant, as well since I am experiencing an abundance of beautiful white and purple globes.

Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes

End of summer eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

I went looking for recipes for using even more eggplant (having already made eggplant parmigian, roasted baby eggplant and baba ghanouj) and found some truly wonderful and healthy recipes from the New York Times Cooking team.

I am going to try Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin (using quinoa instead of couscous) today.  Oh, and I will be making my own mayonnaise, going forward. Now for the promised Zuke Chips recipe!

Zucchini Chips
Zucchini, sliced in thin rounds, make chips that taste better than any you can buy and are good for you.  And, the recipe is simple!

Zucchini chips baked

Zuke chips are crispy, salty and tasty!

Preheat the oven to 235 degrees (that’s not a typo).

Slice 2 zucchini into super thin rounds using a mandolin or food processor.

Put parchment paper or silicone mats on cookie sheets.

Put a single layer of zucchini rounds on each cookie sheet then, using a basting

Use a basting brush to spread the oil.

Basting is better than drizzling for even spread of oil.

brush, brush each chip lightly with olive oil.

Sprinkle the chips with salt or, as I do, you can use a mixture of brewer’s yeast and salt.

Put the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours, checking them during the last hour as some chips will finish faster than others. Combine the fully baked chips on 1 sheet, remove them from the oven & let the other chips crisp up.

Dehydrated zuke chips

Zuke chips from the dehydrator are not as good.

FYI – I tried making these in my dehydrator and was not too impressed with the taste or the crispness.

The chips looked a bit prettier but they were also chewy, not crispy. And the flavor was nowhere near as buttery or rich as the chips I baked in the oven.

Later this week week, I promise I will post my zucchini fritters and avocado/lemon dipping sauce.

Enjoy your end of summer bounty and please, share your recipes, too!

Healthy Mushroom Burger You Will Love

Organic Italian produce

Zucchetta, peppers and onions from my garden.

End of summer and I still have tons of healthy, tasty Sicilian zucchetta, sweet Italian red peppers and my sweet Italian red onions -detect a theme?  Italian is what happens when you marry one and cook for him for 30+ years!

Mushroom burger

Healthy, tasty mushroom burgers served with avocado dip.

So I am in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.  Here are my two of my favorite recipes – tasty and healthy – for this end of season bounty Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Mushroom Burgers
I live in mushroom country – near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania so I have easy access to all kinds of mushrooms at very reasonable prices.  My husband’s a diabetic with serious insulin issues that made us change everything about the way we eat.

This recipe is one of results and it’s one of his favorites and one of mine.  The base was from a 2010 Bon Appetit recipe but I made some changes in ingredients and cooking method.

INGREDIENTS:
2 T butter or ghee
2 T olive oil
1½ lb sliced cremini mushrooms
2 sliced Portabellas
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small red onion diced
2 eggs – beaten
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 T chopped basil
2 T chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 c almond flour
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Melt butter or ghee with olive oil in deep pan over medium-high heat.
Add all mushrooms and sauté until crisp – about 14 minutes.  Stir often.
While mushrooms cook, preheat the griddle to medium heat.
Add garlic to mushrooms, stir for 1 minute.  Transfer mix to food processor.
Add eggs, parmesan, herbs, almond flour, salt and pepper to processor and pulse until mushrooms are chopped – medium coarse.
Put English muffin rings on griddle and do a quick spray with olive or coconut oil.
Scoop mushroom mix up with your hands and place inside each ring, filling each ring and patting mix down to level the mix off.
Grill for 7 or 8 minutes on one side, flip with the rings and cook for 7 to 8 minutes on the other side.  If the centers of the burgers still seem a little soft, flip again and cook for another 5 minutes.

If you want to have a melted cheese center, put half the mix in the English muffin ring, place shredded cheese on top then put the rest of the mushroom mix over top of the cheese and pat to level inside the ring.

I’ve already posted a recipe for Zucchini Crusted Pizza that is DELICIOUS!  Next time, I will share my recipes for Zucchini Fritters and Zucchini Chips – delicious!

How to Grow Figs, with Lee Reich from A Way To Garden

Two of my favorite gardening resources got together to discuss how to grow figs and the outcome is an information-packed  article coupled with a podcast!

Lee Reich, whose books include Grow Fruit Naturally: A Hands-On Guide to Luscious, Homegrown Fruit, The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated and Weedless Gardening, shares his secrets for growing figs with Margaret Roach — a gardening expert in her own right.

FYI – in case you’re thinking it’s too cold where you live to grow figs, read on.  Both of these gardeners live in Zone 5 and still grow figs.  And the topic of growing figs is one of my favorite.

I have two fig trees in my Southeastern PA zone 6 – one is the Celeste the other was a cutting from a tree brought to America in 1910(?) by a friend’s great grandfather.

Both did beautifully for years, providing so many figs that I gave them away, diced and froze them and made fig jam!

But in the last 2 years, the very cold winters have really hurt them. I am back to just getting stems with leaves growing up from the roots in the ground that survived.   I hope to get figs again next year or the year after because this is a superb fruit.

One of my favorite ways to eat them is right off the tree! But if I manage to get a few in the house, I chill them, cut them in half, place a small round of goat cheese on each half and drizzle balsamic vinegar mixed with honey on each half. Heaven!

I hope you enjoy Margaret Roach’s interview with Lee Reich and give figs a try!

Avoid GMO Food – GROW YOUR OWN!

Lettuce, spinach and onions growing in raised truck bed.

Cool weather and cool raised bed of a 55 Chevy truck making for happy lettuce, spinach and onions.

Organic gardening is the easiest, best way to avoid all the GMO foods currently on the market – estimated to be 80% of US food chain.

I know – I wrote the book on just how easy it is to get going and get growing.  And I share tips and tricks on how to raise just about every possible vegetable and fruit you can find in the store (well, no kiwi, avocado or olives – too cold here).

Now, another doctor adds his voice to the growing chorus of educated, intelligent people who just don’t want to eat “frankenfood” that is definitely affecting our health and our children’s health.

Grow lettuce. Try blueberries – in pots or the yard.  20110628_0377

Heirloom tomatoes growing up happy with just sunshine and epsom salts!

Heirloom tomatoes on the vine in my backyard just weeks away from picking!

Add tomatoes and peppers.  And start being sure where your food has been and who it’s been hanging out with.

Share your ideas, your recipes and your success stories with other gardeners – just step out onto your patio or into your yard and start down the path to healthy food, health eating and healthy lives.  It is…oh so easy!